Former Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Rafael van der Vaart did not hold back on his opinion of Ajax’s performance despite the club doing enough to secure a place in this season’s Europa League group stage draw. The analyst was joined by Youri Mulder on Ziggo Sport.
The Eredivisie club lost 1-0 at home in the second-leg of the play-off match against Ludogorets but it was still enough on to progress through to the group stages 4-2 on aggregate. Yet, despite the Dutch giants getting the job done, Van der Vaart did not hide his criticism of head coach Maurice Steijn and his team.
“Where should you start? We’ve all seen a lot of bad matches, but this is one of the worst Ajax matches I’ve ever seen. They didn’t create a chance. They know it themselves, if you see them walking. It is fortunate that Ludogorets himself did not believe in it. Gosh, they still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
The former Real Madrid player was also not pleased with how the only goal of the evening came about.
He added: “No one covers short, they don’t tackle, there is a run away from the back of Kenneth Taylor, a keeper who may need to get off his line a bit more: an accumulation of mistakes. Being outplayed against this team like that is not allowed. This couldn’t be worse.”
Mulder also pointed out the importance of winning games for the coefficient ranking. “If you deliver a match like that, you don’t do the rest of Dutch football a favor either. They can be blamed for that, it’s about the points,” said Mulder, who thought that Ajax was saved by a weak Ludogorets.
He added: “I thought they played dumber than Ajax, they didn’t realise that they really could have won 0-3. This is becoming structural. Football has to be much better, there is not really any development yet. They can do much better than this. This is really through the lower limit. So it’s not an off day, you see it often. And it’s about basic things that you can improve quickly: put pressure on, play faster to each other.”
The two were only pleased with Carlos Forbs. The winger left the field minutes after a hard foul by opponent Marcel Heister, in which he was released with a fright. “He’s lucky he’s not stuck with his leg, otherwise you can go to the hospital. Something happens when he touches the ball, there is potential in that,” said Van der Vaart.
The Europa League group stage draw takes place in Monaco on Friday September 1 at 1pm local time.